By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
PLATTE CITY — All parishes are special to a bishop.
But Bishop Robert W. Finn might be forgiven if he thinks XII Apostles Parish is just a wee bit extra special.
On June 30, Bishop Finn joined parish leaders to break ground for a new church to serve the first, and to date the only, new parish he has established in his seven years as bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
“It is wonderful to see this taking shape. May it continue do so with God’s complete blessing,” he told some 200 parishioners who gathered on a brutally hot evening at the construction site just southwest of the rapidly growing and changing town.
“There is no imagining how many prayers will be lifted from this site, but we begin by saying, ‘Our Father,’” Bishop Finn said as he led the crowd in prayers and a blessing with Holy Water.
Documents from the former Diocese of St. Joseph indicates that a “Mass station” had been designated in Platte City in the 19th Century, but there are no records of any Mass or any sacraments actually being celebrated in seat of Platte County government.
For more than a century, Catholics who lived in Platte City were served by one of the county’s two parishes, Holy Trinity in Weston and St. Therese in Parkville, or by Good Shepherd in nearby Smithville in Clay County.
That changed in 2003 with a gift from Charlie and Marge Johnson of 20 picturesque acres, high on a hill overlooking a small farm lake across Humphrey’s Access Road.
The gift, however, came with a stipulation. A Catholic church had to be built on that land by Dec. 31, 2013, or the land would revert to the donors.
Quickly, the community that would become XII Apostles Parish began to take shape as a mission of Holy Trinity. Father Tom Hawkins, then pastor of Holy Trinity, began celebrating Masses first in the city’s community center.
When Father Charles Rowe became Holy Trinity’s pastor, the parish leased space in a commercial building along Platte City’s main road that became its first worship space.
Then in April 2008, with the community still growing, Bishop Finn formally erected XII Apostles as a full parish, to be served by the pastor of Holy Trinity.
Parish leaders then got busy and within four years of the parish’s birth had raised enough funds to begin construction of a $3 million church designed to seat 400 immediately with relatively easy expansion as the parish continues to grow.
And that is what the day was all about — building faith and growing, Father Rowe told his congregation as they celebrated their regular 5 p.m. Saturday Mass before the groundbreaking.
He noted that much of the construction of the parish’s church will be done during the year the church as designated as the “Year of Faith.”
“Faith is the key that unlocks the power of Jesus and lets his grace transform those who believe,” Father Rowe said.
Father Rowe reminded the congregation of the story of Jairus, who stuck by Jesus in the face of ridicule because of his faith that Jesus could raise his young daughter from the dead.
“Jairus persevered believing in Jesus. He stuck it out with the Lord, and he got do see the Lord’s marvelous deeds,” he said.
“We need this kind of persevering faith, even in our dear parishes,” Father Rowe said.
“Many of us have gotten so comfy in our super-secularized culture that we don’t make time to be intimate with the Lord,” he said.
“We need to step out of the climate of unbelief that permeates our society and make time to be alone with Jesus in a quiet place so he can work miracles in our heart,” Father Rowe said.
“If you want to believe, that is a sign that God is already working in your heart,” he said.
“Don’t waste the grace, but act like you believe,” he said. “Go to Mass, pray, and let Jesus work wonders in your world.”